New downtown Durham bridal registry and gift store betting on millennials keeping some traditions

The store is offering a wide-variety of china and everyday goods, both from international manufacturers of pottery to local artisans.
The store is offering a wide-variety of china and everyday goods, both from international manufacturers of pottery to local artisans. The Herald-Sun

Celia Bradshaw believes that millennials – a generation long derided by its predecessors for abandoning cultural institutions – can still be traditional.

She believes it so much she is banking on it.

Bradshaw – a Durham transplant from Brooklyn via Mobile, Alabama – is opening a bridal registry and home decor shop, named Bungalow, in downtown Durham this summer.

The store will sell items that newlyweds can fill their homes with for a lifetime. That means anything from fine china to candles, local artwork from Hillsborough artist Sam Ezell to linens.

The shop will also serve as a gift shop.

“What I want to do is help people bring things into their home that hopefully they will have for the rest of their lives and perhaps pass on to future generations,” Bradshaw said.

But convincing millennials to think about buying fine china could be tough, she admits. Not to mention the competition the store faces from large chains such as Crate & Barrel and Williams Sonoma.

Places like Crate & Barrel are fine, she said, but chain retailers don’t sell unique items.

She added she has seen other shops have success in the Triangle, such as Quintessentials in Raleigh and South in Chapel Hill – though she says she will be working at a lower price point.

“I am hoping ... that young people – I hate to use that term because it makes me feel like a grandma – that they will register for nice things,” the 54-year-old said. “Things that they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves.

Bradshaw said she plans to reach younger customers through social media platforms such as Instagram.

Prices at the store will be mid- to high-end with items such as plates going for $25 to $45.

The shop will take up a prominent piece of real estate in downtown’s Five Points area, between Beyu Caffe and the restaurant Viceroy.

Growing energy

Bradshaw, a former psychologist with the New York Police Department, said she was determined to place the store there because of the growing energy of downtown. She compared it to her former Brooklyn neighborhood Fort Greene.

She departed New York for Durham (to a bungalow in the Trinity Park neighborhood) several years ago after marrying a longtime friend, who was working in Durham.

Bungalow will join a roster of newer stores in downtown that offer high-end items for sale such as the clothing store Vert & Vogue, the children’s store Tiny and the furniture store Area Modern Home.

Last year, downtown added 10 new stores and more than 100,000 square feet of retail space is expected to be added in the next three years, according to Downtown Durham Inc., an advocacy group.

“The price point of the downtown retailers varies, so I think there is still a good mix,” said Melissa Muir, director of business relations at DDI. “But the newer stores have had a little higher price point,”

Muir said it was too early to know if downtown can support so many high-end retailers, though, she’s optimistic with the large amount of residential units, office space and hotel rooms being added.

“I think visitors spend money a little bit different than people who are shopping in their hometown,” she explained.

Bungalow is set to open later this month.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes